Coronavirus and a crash course in data analytics

By: Dr. Cheri Shapiro

Since I last wrote the world has literally altered course and life as we know it has come to an abrupt halt.  We are all struggling to create new routines, new ways of work, and new personal and family routines.

The need for social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19 has pushed many of you into the world of remote service provision, whether by telemedicine or phone, or possibly even by text or email (on secure platforms, of course!).  As you embark on this journey, how can you stay on course?

One lesson COVID-19 has taught many around the globe is the absolute importance of data for tracking purposes.  I have written in the past about how collection of information to track progress is a critical element of use of evidence-based interventions.  Now, we all, in anxious anticipation, check daily statistics regarding the number of cases and deaths in the hope that our efforts to stop the spread of this disease are working.  The power of this information is undeniable.

How can we apply this to our support of clients?

Helping clients self-monitor can be an important part of treatment.  Creating rating scales of mood or behavior that can be easily used is important.  For example, asking a parent to rate the level of difficulty they have had in the last day in managing their child’s behavior on a scale from 1-10, or having an adolescent rate their level of sadness or fear on a similar scale, can help you track progress with your client. As home tasks are given for practice, clients can track whether they did the task, and provide a rating of their mood or behavior.  In this fashion, you can link treatment to outcomes.  

Other tracking options include using surveys that can be completed electronically or apps for tracking a variety of behaviors.  Remember, the act of tracking itself can be reactive (i.e. changing the behavior we are targeting), which may be exactly the desired goal.

Keep safe and keep on tracking …

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